Crowds adore Frankel the virtuoso

Aficionados mass for last chance to see superstar in action as training exercise upstages real thing

Newmarket

It was a bit like Branagh doing a read-through of his Agincourt exhortation front of stage before the curtain rose. Frankel's dress rehearsal thoroughly upstaged the rest of the company gathered here, themselves good-class animals contesting, among others, two Group One prizes and one of the most valuable and competitive handicaps of the season.

But none has the charisma of the unbeaten superstar, due to race for the last time at Ascot 20 days hence. His presence yesterday, to go through a nine-furlong workout on the track before the first race, ensured traffic queues down the local high street from mid-morning and drew considerably more spectators round the parade ring than for the following real things.

But then Frankel is wondrous to watch, in both his slower and faster paces. In repose or at a walk he has no oil-painting elegance, exuding instead a raw, bruising power, but at the gallop his mighty, effortless, stride makes him the classical ventre-a-terre thoroughbred in action. The faithful had a glimpse of both yesterday as the four-year-old went through a full raceday experience, including a return to the winner's circle after rider Tom Queally, in owner Khaled Abdullah's silks, let him stretch clear of the two stablemates who joined him in the exercise.

It provided a physical and mental tightener, something to capture the horse's attention away from his normal routine. His trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, seriously ill, made a rare racecourse appearance to supervise proceedings. "This was just what was needed," he said. "They went a decent pace and Frankel had a good blow afterwards, which is what you would have wanted to see him do as this is not D-day."

Uniquely, the occasion was deemed worthy of a page in the racecard, giving details of the three "runners" and their riders. So step forward in public, for once, Shane Fetherstonhaugh, who partners Frankel daily at home, and Danny Dunnachie, up on the celebrity's regular lead horse, Bullet Train.

Yesterday, Fetherstonhaugh was on Specific Gravity, who briefly led the workout until Dunnachie and Bullet Train adopted their punchbag role, a role neither resents. "When Frankel goes past, he does it so easy it's as if he's just cantering, and it takes your breath away," said one-time jockey Dunnachie. "Bullet Train doesn't give up or lose heart, though. And reliable work horses like him are worth their weight in gold."

As are experienced workriders. Yesterday was the first time Queally had ridden Frankel since they won the International at York last month; it is Fetherstonhaugh who has done more than any man to harness and channel the colt's headstrong tendencies. "He is no pussycat," said Abdullah's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, of the son of Galileo. "He is a big, robust and domineering horse, but mentally he is now much more the finished article.

"Today we wanted a bit more than a normal workout, we wanted to press him a bit more and get him to use more energy and strength and keep him a lean, mean killing machine."

For those unable to get to sold-out Ascot next month, Frankel's day out afforded the opportunity to bid farewell to one of the greatest shows on Turf for, although the timing of his retirement has yet to be writ in stone, it is highly likely that the Champion Stakes will be his 14th and final race.

And if any reminder that we should all enjoy him while he is here was needed, it came yesterday morning with the news that the top-class mare Snow Fairy, one of the leading fancies for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe today week, will miss the Longchamp showpiece. The injury-prone five-year-old, third last year and winner of both her races this season, sustained a slight tendon strain in her final big-race workout but, provided she recovers fully, is on course to remain in training.

Yesterday's top-level contests here both involved females of the species. In the Cheveley Park Stakes, Rosdhu Queen, trained locally by William Haggas and ridden by Johnny Murtagh, gamely fought off all comers, headed by Winning Express, as she took her unbeaten run to four and launched herself to as short as 14-1 in the lists for next year's 1,000 Guineas. And in the Sun Chariot Stakes Siyouma, from François Doumen's yard, took the spoils back to France for the fourth successive year, after a hat-trick from her compatriot Sahpresa.

The runner-up, Elusive Kate, beaten three-quarters of a length, can be considered unlucky, as she stumbled and spread a plate leaving the start. But rider William Buick found compensation in taking the Cambridgeshire Handicap on Bronze Angel, the last horse to make the cut, in a tight, well-judged late pounce.

The 9-1 shot's trainer, Marcus Tregoning, also supplied the third-placed Boom And Bust (20-1), with Mull Of Killough (33-1) second. Banuanaheireann (50-1) took fourth, ahead of Mukhadram (10-1) and the 8-1 favourite, Chil the Kite.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links